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US House condemns UN resolution on Israeli settlements, Democrats split

Image of the US House Speaker Paul Ryan [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]
Image of the US House Speaker Paul Ryan [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]

The US House of Representatives has voted to condemn a recently-passed United Nations Security Council resolution that reaffirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements.

As reported by AFP, the congressional resolution passed 342 to 80, slamming the bill as "an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace".

At the 23 December vote in New York, the US merely abstained, rather than exercise its right to veto the resolution. According to the Congressional measure, this decision "undermined" Washington's long track-record of defending Israel at the UN.

Speaking before the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said: "I am stunned at what happened last month. This government – our government – abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most. It is time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN."

The non-binding resolution calls for the UN resolution "to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that…it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel", and affirms that only direct bilateral negotiations can resolve final status issues toward a two-state solution.

The resolution also demands that the US ensures no action will be taken at the forthcoming Paris Conference on 15 January, which will be attended by some 70 countries (but not by Israeli or Palestinian officials).

Notably, however, 76 Democrats (and four Republicans) voted against the resolution, in what the Washington Post noted some believe is "a sign…that the discussion around Israel is changing."

While leading Democrats including House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer backed the resolution, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Keith Ellison both joined the dozens opposing the resolution.

Another Democrat to vote no, Luis Gutierrez, objected to the idea that "this Congress has allowed our chamber to be used as an Israeli campaign rally."

Asia & AmericasInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUNUS
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